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Light Industrial Enforcement Notice Upheld

Commercial propertyA landowner who demolished light industrial units, replacing them with larger ones, has failed in a High Court bid to overturn an enforcement notice requiring him to tear them down. The court dismissed as ‘unsustainable’ arguments that the enforcement notice was at odds with existing development rights and not sufficiently specific.

The claimant had been granted planning consent in 1993 to use buildings on the south side of a yard in Maidenhead for purposes connected to his agricultural contracting business and for the repair, storage, maintenance, servicing and hire of motor vehicles. It was a condition of the consent that repairs and maintenance had to be carried on indoors.

He subsequently demolished four units and replaced them with more substantial buildings capable of housing larger vehicles. The Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead issued an enforcement notice in July 2009 requiring removal of the replacement buildings. A retrospective application to retain them was subsequently refused, principally on green belt grounds.

The claimant’s appeal to an inspector appointed by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government was unsuccessful. On appeal to the High Court, the claimant argued that the buildings were only marginally larger than those that they had replaced and that the enforcement notice went beyond what was necessary to remedy the breach of planning control.

Dismissing the appeal, the court noted that the 1993 permission had enabled the buildings to be put to particular uses but had not granted authority for any operational development. Although there was nothing to prevent the claimant from demolishing the existing buildings, he had required planning consent to rebuild or replace them.

The claimant had no extant right to have new buildings on the site of the original structures and, by electing to demolish the latter, he had forfeited his right to carry on repair or maintenance activities on the land on which they had once stood. The requirements of the enforcement notices were also ‘sufficiently specific’ to be enforceable and there could be no complaint that the claimant did not understand what was required of him.